RARA-AVIS: Recently read - Boston II

From: M Blumenthal ( blumenidiot@21stcentury.net)
Date: 10 Nov 2001

SMALL VICES - I had bought and read all the Spenser books as soon as I saw them in pb until Walking Shadow. I still pick them up if I happen to see them used, but I haven't read them. As this is Boston month and a couple of Rarae Aves had said his recent books were better I read two.

It's clear that Parker has a complete record of the series' plots and characters. In this book he mentions that Spenser met Susan in 1974. I checked into that book, God Save the Child. He says he is thirty seven. When he first sees Susan Silverman he says,," [She] wasn't beautiful ...She had...a thin Jewish face with prominent cheekbones. Tall... there was a sense about her of intelligent maturity which put her on my side of thirty." I don't know what a thin Jewish face is (but my wife says she does and that I have one) nor a sense of intelligent maturity, but this puts his age in 1997 at sixty and her at about fifty five, and she has become beautiful over the years. At that age how could she propose to adopt a child along with Spenser even though they live on opposite sides of the Charles River.? This becomes an anoying theme for the first half of the book until one of Susan's friends comes to visit with her bratty daughter Even worse is any sentence devoted to Pearl, TWD.

Even today Parker doesn't treat Spenser as having aged much more than into his early fourties and portrays as a Susan as a fourty. year old who has mysteriously become beatiful as time has gone by. If he wants to have his characters not age, that's fine, but he doesn't have to provide dates that make the image impossible. Spenser is his idealized image of himself. Even Spenser and Susan not living together is paralelled by Parker and his wife, Joan, who share the same house but each lives in their own half.

In spite of the concerns above, about halfway through the book I thought to myself this might be almost as good as the early Spensers.Then I noticed the insistent chorus of his allies and himself saying how hard to kill and good he is at his profession. That praise seems excessive. Hawk warns him there is a contract out for his life and later the hitman comes over to warn him. Just to make sure Spenser will be able to easily identify him, the hitman, who has gray hair, always wears gray. How good can Spenser be if after this he jogs alone on the little bridge from Harvard to Brighton in a blinding snowstorm? I also thought the ending is an easy way to easily resolve problems but is improbable.

HUSH MONEY - . I had a discussion with George Upper on this list about Parker's never having a book to explore Hawk's origins as did Robert Crais for Pike in LA Requiem. George agreed, but someone else wrote to say Parker did in Hush Money. George agreed but said he hated the book so he had blotted it from his mind.

The book is not very good. There are two and a half pages about Hawk's background that basically say he was a mugger until he started boxing. Strange, when Spenser encountered him in Promised Land he as an enforcer, not much of a change. In the book Spenser initially takes on homosexuality and race relations. In
 another plot line he is to help a woman being stalked. Of course, Spenser has Susan Silverman, who has a phd in psychology to help him handle these sensitively, yet his usual preferred method of solving a problem is beating someone up. The stalking plot is just embarassingly bad. All the named homosexuals stereotyped as physically weak.

Here is a short excerpt that I thought was especially laughable:

"Susan put her knife and fork down, and folded her hands under her chin and gazed at me in silence.
'Don't let them kill you,' Susan said.
'I won't', I said. She thought for a minute looking at me , and then said, 'No you won't, will you.'


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